Please help - any advice welcomed regarding suicide

B. Lerner

New Member
Our son has a plan that when he turns 21 (this April), he's going to buy a gun & kill himself. Dan has social phobia, ADD & clinical depression, and usually is not willing to leave his room, let alone go outside. We've tried a number of anti-depressants, which haven't worked. He's also been to counselors & psychiatrists at Stanford, but refuses to go anymore.

To Dan, life is meaningless and painful. Human existence itself is a blot on the world. We would all be better off dead, and he is the only one smart enough to see it, and to say it. He just wants to check out.

We are unable to get Dan to do anything meaningful for himself, or make any advancement in his life. We would probably have to create a crisis in order create change. And we don’t really know how to do that. He just sits in his room & watches videos or plays online games.

Dan is gentle, thoughtful, considerate, and highly intelligent. He has never been in a real crisis. We just don’t know how to get through to him.

We don’t know what to do except sit around and wait.


Well-Known Member
I am so sorry. I can't imagine what you are going through.

Have you thought of seeing a therapist to help you through this?

When he turns 21, can you tell the police he has a plan? I hope you can find some help.



Well-Known Member
Will he go for an evaluation by a Neuro psychologist? To me he sounds like he is on the autism spectrum, which is very often misdiagnosed as other things...My son was diagnosed first as ADHD then bipolar. We didn't believe it. I knew a little about autism and kept trying.

Once he was diagnosed and helped, which included social skills classes, he skyrocketed and is doing very well now at 23. Like your son he is gentle and sweet and loves videogames and movies (autistics have trouble with imagining things so outside stimulation that is imaginative seems to really amuse them, even more than other gamers). They tend to have narrow obsessive interests and are not sure how to socialize ,(my son has taken off here since getting help,). Often they need an adult case manager to help them find a suitable job, housing, and receive social security. Plus there is more help out there and it is free if he is deemed disabled. My son works two part time jobs and gets a little social security. He has a best friend, bowls, and then needs down time. Everyone on the spectrum needs time alone where it is quiet and chill. Stimuli hits them hard and they can only take do much.

My son is mellow, content and loving. Without his interventions that started with his right diagnosis at age 11 I know he would be more like your son.We saw a Neuro psychologist which is a psychologist with special training in the brain. They are much more intensive and better evaluators than psychiatrists. My son had no mood swings yet his psychiatrist called him bipolar and put him on medications that just made him tired.

We finally got another opinion. It saved him.

If your son finds out he has a problem that can be helped he may not stay suicidal. Is he autistic for sure? Psychiatrists often misdiagnosis it but he sounds like it but nobody here can diagnose him. I can't say for sure...Just pass on what hit me. I do think a Neuro psychologist evaluation would help him more and get him on track to adult community services depending upon what is found. His suicidal ideation may be due to feeling helpless and different.

I really truly wish you luck. Your son sounds kind, but puzzled and sad. Understanding why he has so much trouble doing life and getting encouraging help could change his life. Something is going on that has so far been missed.

Lots of love and good wishes.
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I Am The Walrus
I am not sure how you came to know this - whether this is something that he outright says or you found it written somewhere. But the fact that he is making it known sounds like a cry for help. He needs to see someone, a therapist, and if he lives with you then maybe you can make it a condition of his living in your home. I am not sure of the relationship you have with him, but if he is calm and normally not explosive, try a rational conversation, adult to adult. Explain how much you love him and how much he means to you, and that you are concerned and want to help him get through this period in his life. It seems odd also that he is choosing his 21st birthday, as though it is symbolic to him in some way. I would not let this go on without insisting that he go and talk to a professional.

pigless in VA

Well-Known Member
He just sits in his room & watches videos or plays online games.

You will note in my signature that my son is also a gamer. I think that gamers struggle with real live people and find the gaming world to be far more interesting and compelling than real life. I honestly think video game addiction is just as bad as substance addiction.

Does your son work? We found a way to limit the Xbox by turning it off remotely at midnight. That forces Ferb to either, a. go to a friend's house to continue gaming or b. do something else.

If he is twenty, you can't very well force him into therapy. He has to want to go in order to make a difference in his life.

Does he have any real life friends? Or does he only communicate with other gamers?


Well-Known Member
Dan is gentle, thoughtful, considerate, and highly intelligent.
he's going to buy a gun & kill himself. Dan has social phobia, ADD & clinical depression,
Very much of what you say applies to my child, my son, who is now 28. Similar attributes. Similar diagnoses and threats of suicide. My son has been hospitalized a number of times; about 5 years ago he says he did make a couple of attempts.
life is meaningless and painful. Human existence itself is a blot on the world. We would all be better off dead, and he is the only one smart enough to see it, and to say it. He just wants to check out.
My son believes in conspiracy theories that reinforce his world view.

While I am quite worried about him right now (unsure where he is) he has been getting better and better. The turning point was about a year and a half ago. I hit bottom and I decided I had to limit contact with him. I did not call. When he called, I spoke only a few words, oh, so, no (the Al Anon protocol). But I think the major change was at 27 his brain began to mature and he was able to understand in a different way. I know this might not be reassuring for you because in Dan's case this is so far into the future. But it is something to remember. These kids' brains are immature. They will mature, if they survive. The question is what to do now.

In my case I did not let up. At 19 I forced him to go to Job Corps. He could not come home until he completed a program. I insisted he go to college, and he did complete a year. I demanded that he go to a nurse's aide program. And he did work for 15 months. When he quit that job due to depression, and wanted to stay home and mope, I told him to do that he would have to get treatment, and when he did not, I threw him out.

I am not saying any of this correct. In retrospect I have regrets. But I felt that no matter what was his diagnosis, his limit, he had to find a way to be constructive and productive, or to be open to the support that would allow him to function to the extent that he could.

I still have that view.

Your son sounds like he is not aggressive. My son became aggressive. I called the cops so many times I do not have digits to count. My son, too, made reference to plans to suicide at some distant date. We confronted him with this and told him how seriously we would take any threat, including doing whatever it took to get him involuntarily admitted to hospital. He stopped.
We are unable to get Dan to do anything meaningful for himself, or make any advancement in his life.
The thing is this: you cannot make him do anything meaningful. This is what I see looking back. He blew up the job. He blew up school. The one goal he attained was applying for SSI and he is motivated to keep it.
We would probably have to create a crisis in order create change.
This is what I did. Right or wrong, I decided I would insist that he seek treatment for his depression, and if he did not he would have to leave. That was when he was 23.

I wish I could say it worked: it did not. He went and sought refuge with (ex) family friends who own a luxury motel, where he stayed without conditions for over 2 years. When he had to leave there, he went into a residential treatment center, to have a place to stay, and then went homeless for a time, or couch surfed.

For the past 10 months he has either lived with us or was in residential treatment. I think he went to residential treatment again, but because I cannot reach him, I am unsure. The major issue with us now is marijuana use over which we will not back down. My position: as long as you live with me or someplace I control I do not want you to use any substances. When you are independent of me, you make the call.

This is my stance (right or wrong):

The change comes from them.

You control you and your home.

To allow indolence from an intelligent and able-bodied person, is to enable. Only a very few people are unable to do something. If the symptoms are so severe as to incapacitate us, we are responsible to seek/accept help, to search to find remedy *which can be psychological treatment, recreation, spirituality, friendship, hobbies. But I cannot allow my son to hide out from his life.

To tolerate my son's hurting himself by self-destructive habits and decisions, felt to me to be enabling. As long as he is in my home I get to define what is self-destructive. If he chooses to not accept my viewpoints, he can leave.

It is very painful for us that he leave, because we have seen it does not benefit him. He is much diminished by his life as he lived it away from us. But on the other hand he has greater empathy, he makes better choices, and seems to be more and more the person he needs to be. He has been working for us full-time for many months now and living with us relatively problem-free for most of that time. I could not have envisioned this even a year ago.

I hope you keep posting. It helps. It is not so much the advice. It is holding the feelings and the thoughts in your mind as you write. There is a clarity to be found in this and at the same time a discharging of pent up feeling, that I have found greatly helpful. It helps a lot to have a dialog too, with people who understand.

Take care.
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Well-Known Member
I did not respond to your question. I am sorry. I will now:

I think you cannot wait for his birthday or just before it, to act. I will tell you what I would do: I would accept that what I can do is limited. That the only change will come from your son's decisions to help himself.

There is no way to evaluate what part of your son's statements are manipulative. They should be taken seriously. If a statement is made or you have reason to believe he may be actively suicidal, I would call 911.

What I describe here, is what I would do with my own son. Not what you could or should do with your own. I would begin to put pressure on him to act proactively or to leave. I would not wait. I mentioned Job Corps. I insisted my son go. It is in the USA. I am not sure where you live.

If my son still made suicidal statements I would insist he go to residential treatment, or to be hospitalized. I would not let him spend his life withdrawn into his room. This is not reality. The longer you wait, the worse this will get. His birthday will be upon you and there will possibly be a crisis.

If he does not want treatment, that is his right. But it is also your right to ask him to leave.

In my son's case this was the only way he learned. He learned that he could not depend upon other people to house him indefinitely and without conditions. He learned he did not like to live homeless or near the street. He became motivated to some extent to avoid these things. My son has been volatile. When he sees how difficult his life becomes when we become afraid of his acting out, he seems motivated to moderate his behavior. He is growing in empathy. And self-control.

These kids cannot be allowed to win. Because what they win is to their detriment. Yes. They can die. They can kill themselves. But controlling and manipulating us through our fear and love; allowing them to weaken themselves and circumscribe their potential by only doing stuff to mindlessly distract themselves, while avoiding real life--is this better?

Your son is calling the shots. He does not have the experience or the capacity to realize how much he is damaging himself. You do. Our responsibility is to act from that responsibility. Not our fear.

I hope you keep posting. It helps. It really does. Take care.
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Well-Known Member
Unless your son has tried to commit suicide or homicide, there is nothing legally that can be done to a grown up (over 18) just because has speaks of suicide. He would need to admit he has a time and a Plan or actually try it. Most of them won't admit anything. We don't care well for our mentally different. At best, you would get a 72 hour watch. I have mental illness and have been in hospitals and kind of know the rules.

Your son does not sound dangerous to others. He sounds mentally ill or very possibly struggling with aspergers. I personally would not throw out a well behaved young man who obviously had mental illness or autistic spectrum disorder. I don't tolerate drug abuse or violence but would not put a young man like yours out of the house. It is different.

He is suicidal. I think homelessness would make him act on it.

That is why I suggested having him re- evaluated intensively. There is help for disabled adults. Your son does not sound defiant or happy doing nothing. He is not using drugs. He is not functioning. Maybe there are reasons he can't that are not just being lazy. I would go there first before I closed my house to a good but troubled young adult.

I hope he agrees to get help. Every year we learn more and more about mental illness and neurological differences. If he has npt been evaluated for teo years, his evaluation is already outdated.

I honestly don't know what I would do if I had your son and he refused help. I believe in sending able bodied drug addicts, criminals and violent young men out of our homes. Maybe if you get your son new help and a diagnosis from a fresh eye, he can find a group home that will help him gently function and like himself more because you have a disabled kid, at least right now, not a bad kid.

I hope you can find a solution that helps you all. Your son tears at my heart. Much love and hugs.
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B. Lerner

New Member
I see in my original post that I hadn't stated that my son was seeing a psychiatrist & was on anti-depressants in his teens (about 4 years), but the minute he turned 18 & we couldn't force him anymore, he quit both. And is now he's 21. Nothing has changed, except his older brother told us that now, instead of trying to buy a gun, he's thinking about hanging himself, using a knife or taking an overdose of some drug. We can hide the drugs, but not sure how to possibly avoid the other ways (especially since he has his own set of knives from when he took a cooking course). We've been thinking about trying to get him into a 72-hour hold, but the thing is -- someone meeting him anew wouldn't see any sign of a suicidal ideation. He's very smart & doesn't fit all the standard signs of depression. His brother was able to get him to see someone for about four months, if they went together. It took about 3 months for the counselor to admit that Dan had any hint of suicidal thoughts & even then he wasn't very concerned. So we don't see how we can get him committed for even the initial 72 hours. We have thought about kicking him out, but we're concerned that would be the straw that would actually set him off.

We feel so helpless..............


Well-Known Member
We have thought about kicking him out, but we're concerned that would be the straw that would actually set him off.
There are no good answers. You have no good choice. It is a question of choosing the best option you have, none of which has any guarantees. (I apologize my computer is acting up so I must keep it short, and unfortunately, direct.)
We feel so helpless..............
Right now your son has all of the power. I feel confident to say that he has incentive to indulge his fantasies because he has a captive audience. I could even argue that he is more at risk because you are acting from a sense of helplessness. It is as if your passivity nay give him more room and license to indulge what are thus far fantasies.

We cannot keep our children safe, happy or even alive. Once they are adults only they can do that, but it takes time and work to turn a life around. I lament that my son does not seem to have the wherewithal to make the changes that would turn his life around. But all I can do is learn how to be stronger myself, so that I can tolerate the not knowing and be there in such a way that is not destructive to myself or to him.

I posted before, I think, that I believe I cannot and should not allow my adult child on my dime in our house to act self-destructively, by that I mean, mentally ill, refusing treatment, and achieving power by threats of self-harm. I will not tolerate it, and I did tell him to leave. He had to choose or live or die, and now the threats have stopped. It was illusory to believe that anything I did or did not say or do, could have protected him.

You have value and so does your other son and other children, if you have them. Your son is inflicting harm on all of you. There is a line to be drawn. He must accept treatment. But you cannot force it. But you can draw lines in your home and with your own acceptance of the status quo or not. There is no incentive as it stands for your son to change, until you by your conduct set a limit. This entails risk. But there is risk in the present situation which has gone on too long.

I do not remember if you are in therapy, and getting help and support, whether Al Anon or therapy or spiritual guidance. You are victims here just as surely as is your son, or more. Your pain matters. There is a point where nobody could tolerate this ongoing trauma you are enduring. And you become as vulnerable or more than is your son.

I urge you to keep posting, beginning new threads to clarify the important questions and potential courses of action.

Take care.
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Roll With It
I don't know if you are still around or not. If you are, show Dan the actual cost of his threats/plan. Show him what it does to you. Show him how it hurts you. Don't tiptoe around and keep the pain hidden from his gentle self, shove that in his face so he knows how he is harming you.

Also turn off his internet and gaming. Make him go out into the real world. Sitting alone with thtat fantasy connection to gaming and the internet is just plain harmful. If he wants to have that, he can go and have that at the library or a cafe. I know it sounds callous given his gentle nature and his anxiety, but he needs the push into the real world. He needs to be yanked out of his fanstasy life of gaming. He also needs to ahve less money from mom and dad and more that he has to work for. I know how hard it is to make a kid with a challenge to and do that, believe me, but if he wants his gaming, he can go and do some work of some sort for someone.

pigless in VA

Well-Known Member
Dan is holding you emotionally hostage. He has a pretty sweet deal going for himself. He gets to hide from the world and be a child while the rest of you wait for him to act on his threats.

Yes, I completely understand your fear. I figure that my own son has about a 75% higher chance of dying by suicide than the average person. I have learned to accept that as his reality. Twice I have needed to take him to the hospital because of it. He also knows that I will not allow him to use suicidal threats to manipulate me. I have told him many, many times that is not what I want him to do. I want him to find a way to thrive.

Dan is comfortable with his circumstances. The only way he will do anything differently is by you changing his circumstances. I urge you to seek therapy, so that you can formulate a good plan to get Dan functioning better. He is not really part of the human race today; he's more like a skeleton in your closet or an avatar in your computer.